Accelerating Safeguards Innovations

Valeriia Lozova - Independent Consultant
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The spread of interest in nuclear energy around the world requires devising new strategies for preventing proliferation. Some modern safeguards challenges are associated with new nuclear and related technologies as well as new reactor types (generation IV, small modular reactors, floating power plants). Among them are institutional and bureaucratic hurdles in safeguards implementation, specifically - in developing safeguards approaches and authentication of safeguards equipment. As it turns out, these processes can take decades, whereas, for example, the first new reactors can come online by 2030. One of the reasons why it is hard to remove the hurdles mentioned above is the difference in the cultures of two mainly involved departments: the Department of Nuclear Energy and the Department of Safeguards. Such a situation highlights the need to seek options to accelerate the processes mentioned above. On top of that, broadly speaking, establishing more distinct procedures and enhancing communication among stakeholders involved in these processes could help improve the Agency’s efficiency. Whereas devising safeguards measures requires international approval in model agreements, equipment is authenticated on a case by case basis. In attempts to stay independent, the IAEA sometimes misses cooperation opportunities, which plays to its disadvantage. Significant delays due to the fairly sporadic nature of new equipment acquisition require searching for a more robust mechanism. A guiding document would give potential stakeholders the idea of what they have to take into consideration from the very beginning and how they can alleviate the authentication.